Everything You Need to Know About Charging Connectors and USB Cable Types

As technology has evolved, so has the way in which we charge our devices. Early cellphones took around 10 hours to charge and would only last 30 minutes if you were lucky.

Rewind the clock and you would have been operating a cellphone with a car battery hooked up directly to the handset, a far cry from the portable charging solutions we have today. Typically, most early cell phones were fixed into vehicles as they needed such a large amount of battery power to place a call.

Today, chargers aren’t just used to power up our cell phones. All manner of devices now require mains charging, from laptops and tablets to wearable tech and games console accessories. From the first pin chargers of the early popular handsets to the QI wireless charging of today, the tech revolution has transformed charging over the past two decades.

The most common charging connections you will see today

Classic wall chargers are the method most of us are familiar with today. They are convenient and typically included in the box when we purchase a new device. However, finding a plug socket when you’re outside of your house or office can be like hunting for a needle in a haystack. Furthermore, carrying bundles of chargers around for each of your devices can be cumbersome.

You may have noticed that, particularly with newer devices, the plug and charging cable can actually disconnect. This development by major tech companies has made charging a little easier. Most have created a USB connection on one end of the wire which can slot in and out of the receiving port of the plug.

Carrying around wires is a lot easier without the plugs attached. However, finding a USB port on the go can still be difficult and the likelihood is you will need a power supply to attach the USB wire into a laptop or a computer with the relevant port. Below, we highlight the most common charging connections you will see on your devices.

USB-A

USB-A is likely the type of charger connection you are most accustomed to. It is the original USB connector and is easily identified by its flat rectangular shape. Today, it is most commonly found on laptops, smart TVs, games consoles and media players.

USB-C

Released in 2014, USB Type-C was a response to devices becoming slimmer. Many lightweight and slender devices required a charging facility that matched their stature, hence the birth of USB-C. The port of USB-C is extremely narrow, allowing tech manufacturers to seamlessly integrate the port into new products. USB-C ports are gradually becoming the norm and it is expected that the charging connection will eventually replace the traditional USB-A chargers completely.

USB-B

Not so common, you will mostly find USB-B connections on external hard drives, printers, and other practical gadgets. Also known as ‘Standard B’ connectors, they are not featured on any cell phones or tablets. Sometimes the port is featured on laptops but not for charging purposes.

Mini-USB

Mini-USB sockets are typically found on digital cameras, external hard drives and some cell phones. As the name suggests they are much smaller than the other types of USB charging ports.

Micro-USB

Even smaller still is the Micro-USB charging connection. This type of charging port is found on newer cell phones, GPS units, and some types of tablets, wearable tech and smaller digital cameras.

Lightning Cable

Okay, so you’ve caught us out. Lightning cables aren’t a USB standard, but we wanted to include them for Apple lovers. The company has used the Lightning cable as a way of charging iPhones and iPads since late 2012. Users plug a Lightning to USB-A cable into their devices to charge, connect to a PC, and more.

Qi Wireless

Wireless charging is unrelated to USB connections but it is fast becoming the new way to boost device battery. Qi is the universally agreed global standard of wireless charging. Qi-certified devices can be distinguished by the Qi logo on the product packaging or the device itself. This means it can be used with a Qi-certified charging transmitter.

Understanding USB Speed Standards

Just like Apple have gone through generations of iPhones and iPads, USB connection types have shared a similar history. As connection types have evolved, so has the speed standard. However, it is worth bearing in mind that a connection type doesn’t dictate the data transfer speed.

There have been four generations of USB speed standard:

USB 1.x

This was the original standard when USBs first hit the market. By today’s standards, the transfer speed is outdated and there are very few devices using this now unless you have an ancient relic in your possession.

USB 2.0

When USB 2.0 was introduced, it changed the connection game. Many products today still harness this speed standard despite it being the slowest available. However, it is perfect for devices such as mice and keyboards.

USB 3.x

With much faster transfer speeds than USB 2.0, all of the USB 3 iterations are commonplace in all tech devices today. Most new laptops and computers have at least one USB 3 port and they can often be identified easily as they’re blue in color.

USB 4.0

The newest standard, USB 4.0, is not widely available on the market as of 2021. It took USB 3.0 a while to become the norm and the same is expected to happen with the latest generation of USB 4.0 connectors.

Which connector types are compatible with which standards?

USB 3.x has gone through a number of changes, but the fundamentals stay the same. Many of the connections between USB 2.0 and the various USB 3.x generations are interchangeable but the speed will remain the same.

Below, we highlight which generations offer which type of connection.

USB 1.0 – USB 2.0

  • USB-A
  • USB-B
  • USB Mini-A
  • USB Mini-B
  • USB Micro-A
  • USB Micro-B

USB 3.x

  • USB-A
  • USB-B
  • USB Micro-B
  • USB-C

Putting charger connections into practice

Now you have all the technical knowledge to better understand the different types of charging connection and USB capabilities, you’re probably asking, what has this got to do with MAGFAST? Whilst USB cables can be used for the transfer of data, it’s charging that is the most important factor for users.

USB power bank

Many of our devices gobble up power, and power banks were introduced as a way to remedy dwindling battery on the go. Power banks come in all shapes and sizes and are a necessity for today’s device-dependent individuals.

You can charge a power bank using a USB connection via a mains supply, or wirelessly if enabled. The charge is then stored in the power bank until it is withdrawn when you use it to charge a device. Whilst the capacity of each power bank is different, they eliminate the need to carry a regular charger with you because power banks can store enough energy for multiple charges.

However, not all power banks offer all potential charging connections. Some power banks are solely wireless. Other power banks offer just a USB-C input/output solution. When you’re shopping for a power bank you will need to ensure it has the input and output ports you require.

MAGFAST’s power banks are the perfect solution for charging on the go. Unlike other power banks which have a couple of ways to input and output charge, MAGFAST’s have the monopoly. Even better, you won’t need any extra wires to do so.

When it comes to charging your MAGFAST power bank, you can do so wirelessly. There is also micro-USB plus a built-in USB-C cable should you require. You could also magnetically snap a product – such as MAGFAST Road – to the likes of MAGFAST Life to charge up your portable power supply whilst on the go via the 12v car input.
Once your power bank is charged, it is ready to use. Whether you’re travelling, out at business meetings, or away on a camping trip, MAGFAST’s power banks mean you can top up your battery wherever you are without a mains supply.

With MAGFAST’s power banks there are multiple ways to get power in to keep them topped up, and multiple ways to get power out to charge your devices. With Extreme, there’s an added extra: the 12V 500A port means that, with a set of MAGFAST jumper cables, you can even jump start your car – yes, really.

Can I charge my phone with USB-C?

Not all smartphones facilitate USB-C charging currently. However, because MAGFAST offers many ways to power up your cell phone you don’t need to worry. The mini cables available with MAGFAST chargers are available as USB-C, micro-USB and Lightning.

I need a small USB charger

MAGFAST Life is a portable pocket-size power bank that packs serious power. Don’t let its size fool you, MAGFAST Life possesses four ways to get power in and five ways to get power out, including Qi wireless charging.

When MAGFAST was conceived, we wanted to give customers the option to create their own bespoke charging solution. Whilst MAGFAST Life is perfect on its own, you can snap different MAGFAST charging products on easily due to our amazing magnetic wizardry. Want a charging stand for when you’re in meetings? Is your mains supply too far from your workstation? Snap on MAGFAST Air to Life and you have a simple yet sophisticated charging stand.

One of our favorite MAGFAST connections is the neat USB-C cable on our power banks. It’s so discreet you might not even notice it’s there. The cable flips out of the MAGFAST casing and snaps back into position due to a magnetic closure. We wanted to include USB-C as it is the most common output connection for most current devices. Furthermore, the built-in output cable can be plugged into the MAGFAST USB-C fast charging outlet, should you need extra length. Don’t have a USB-C device? MAGFAST’s mini cables are available in micro-USB and Lightning too.

What is a USB jump starter?

If you get your hands on MAGFAST Extreme, we highly recommend investing in the MAGFAST Jumpers too that we mentioned earlier. Our revolutionary jumper cables are an essential accessory should your vehicle battery die.

Because MAGFAST Extreme has so many different charging connections available, keeping it topped up is simple. Simply pop it in your bag or safely stow it away in the glove compartment of your car or truck and you know you can easily charge your devices or jump start your vehicle whenever you need. All you need to do is plug your Extreme Jumpers into MAGFAST Extreme and attach it carefully to your 12v vehicle battery and you’ll be back on the road in no time.

We recently put MAGFAST Extreme’s jumper cables to the test. We managed to jump start a powerful 5.4-liter Ford Expedition 21 times during our experiment. The cables did not overheat or melt like other jumpers on the market. You’d think performing 21 jump starts back-to-back would affect MAGFAST Extreme or our jumper cables. It’s called Extreme for a reason and both components were able to deliver the power perfectly time and time again.

Charging connections and USB cables made easy

Now you’ve had an insight into the various different ways you can charge your device you can find a charger that suits you.

MAGFAST is changing charging for good and, due to our chargers having multiple input and output options, you know you can always give your battery a boost. A great answer for all your needs would be to invest in the MAGFAST Pro Kit. This collection of MAGFAST essentials is designed to cover every part of your charging life. The kit contains:

  • MAGFAST Life
  • MAGFAST Extreme
  • MAGFAST Road
  • MAGFAST Air
  • Two MAGFAST Wall

The collection also contains all the MAGFAST add-ons, such as a combo pack of all three MAGFAST Adaptor Tips, USB-C, Apple Lightning and Micro-USB.

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